Does Xylitol Chewing Gum Help Your Teeth?
Sugar-free gums have been in circulation for years, and many have continued to wonder about whether or not sugar-free gum can help your teeth. Certain gum brands such as Trident, Orbit, and Icebreakers use xylitol as a sweetener for their gum. Among many, xylitol has been up in the air about whether or not it’s safe to consume, how it affects the body, and whether or not it protects your teeth. The answer to this can be summed up quite easily.
The Effects of Chewing Gum
Chewing gum can provide benefits to your oral health, depending on the type of gum used. Regular, sugar-filled gum can harm your teeth by embedding sugar into the crevices of the molars, coating the surface of your teeth with sugar, and causing the bacteria in your mouth to process those sugars and create more plaque. However, the act of chewing gum can remove food particles from the teeth and encourage saliva to form, which further removes the acids and bacteria from your teeth. Sugar-free chewing gum appears to be the answer, but what about its ingredients? Is xylitol safe?
How The Body Processes Xylitol
Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol, and it has anti-cariogenic properties. When first consumed, xylitol prevents the bacteria from growing in the mouth because the bacteria cannot process sugar alcohol. Once the xylitol reaches the stomach and intestines, most people can tolerate sugar alcohol. Still, some may experience digestive side effects, such as gas and bloating, only because it gets fermented by gut bacteria. Studies so far show no serious side effects to xylitol, making it an excellent source for sugar-free alternatives.
The Benefits of Xylitol Gum
Organizations such as the ADA and many dentists recommend the use of xylitol sugar-free gum. Some of those benefits include:
Xylitol reduces decay-causing bacteria – Xylitol reduces the growth of the oral bacteria Streptococcus mutans, one of the main bacteria that cause cavities. The bacteria lose their ability to adhere to the tooth because it cannot process the sugar alcohol and thus loses its ability to stick to the tooth. When exposed to xylitol over a longer period, the amount of cavity-causing bacteria decreases.
Produces Saliva Flow – Saliva has a significant amount of benefits for the mouth. Saliva can wash away harmful bacteria and food particles throughout the mouth and reduce the number of cavities. Xylitol gum benefits xylitol as an additive for flavor and cavity prevention, making it an effective choice for oral care.
Clean your teeth overtime – For in-between moments throughout the day, chewing gum with xylitol in it can clean your teeth of any food particles and plaque, and depending on the flavor, leave a fresh, minty breath behind.
There are no health risks – Consuming xylitol doesn’t have any negative health effects unless you are specifically allergic to xylitol or cannot consume sugar-free foods due to chronic conditions.
For more information about xylitol and other oral health care tips, please contact Dr. Kevin H. Speer at Oak Grove Dental. You can receive proper, comprehensive oral care at Milwaukie, OR today.